Marriages – Interview at ArcTanGent

Greg Burns / 2014

During ArcTanGent, NoiseSpeaks got to joke around with the members of Marriages between sets. Guitarist/vocalist Emma Ruth Rundle, bassist Greg Burns, and drummer Andrew Clinco poke fun at Silicon Valley, talk recent tours, and go in depth about their album, Salome.

This isn’t your first trip to the UK to tour, correct?

Emma: We were here earlier this year. We did a tour in Europe with Wovenhand and we finished it up with a show in London. Not sure when that was exactly.

Greg: About four months ago in April.

Emma: Was it that long ago?

So right after you released Salome?

Greg: Yeah, about two weeks after it had come out.

Emma, you’ve got the solo tour coming up with Alcest. Congratulations, by the way, that should be a fantastic tour. How was your headline tour in the US for Salome?

Emma: We just finished the headline tour for Salome before coming out here. We literally finished it and came here a few days after.

That’s right, the San Francisco date was that festival, Phono Del Sol. How did the tour go?

Emma: It was great. We became really good friends with Creepoid, and met a lot of new people and saw a lot of friends. We were able to realize the songs from the record in a positive way. It was a good experience.

Greg: It was also our first tour that we’ve done as a headlining tour. It was interesting to break that milestone. We had a good time.

Between Kitsune and Salome, there was not only a large time gap and also that Marriages’ sound changed quite a bit. Can you talk about the process of how your sound evolved? I think a lot of fans were shocked when Salome came out. They were expecting something more similar to the first EP.

Greg: Well, as far as the sound evolving, Kitsune was written right out of a Red Sparowes’ frame of mind. We didn’t write it with a drummer. We had Dave Clifford, a friend, play on the EP, but we wrote it and recorded it within six months of starting the band. So it was very stream of consciousness. Very little thought went into it, for good or bad. Dave played on the record and did some shows with us, and then shortly after that Andrew joined the band full time.

I think a big part of the evolution was just having Andrew as a permanent drummer. He plays a lot of instruments, he’s very musical and we enjoyed having him as part of the song writing process. But also, we payed a lot more attention to the songs themselves and really thought through the songs, almost to the point, that it slowed us down more than we wanted it to. That was part of the reason for the gap.

After that, the actual recording process took close to a year. It was really long. There were some challenges that were a bit unfortunate, but I won’t get into that. Normally for us to record a record, we’re done in a month. This time it took a year. That’s sort of the reason, which we won’t do again.

I saw you guys with Boris on some of the West Coast dates last year, so how was the tour with Boris?

Emma: We’ve toured with Boris a few times. And with Red Sparowes, we toured with Boris. I feel like Boris is one band we’ve probably toured more than any other band. So we’ve had a chance to see their daughter grow up and I always love touring with them and they are the nicest people. They’re hilarious and they put on an amazing show every time. They are all really kind.

Greg: Atsuo speaks English well, so there’s not really a language barrier. Surprisingly there are these weird ways to break through that where I personally don’t even think about it after the first or second day.

You guys are known in Japan a bit, are you hoping to tour Japan one day?

Greg & Emma: Yes!

Emma: I would love to go to Japan. I didn’t know we had any sort of presence there.

Some of the people I’ve talked to know you. Maybe Boris talked you guys up a little bit more. I noticed in a few of record shops, I saw Kitsune multiple times.

Emma: Maybe having the Japanese name was helpful.

Andrew: We didn’t do a Daymare release for Salome, though did we?

Emma: I don’t think so.

Andrew: I know they did for Kitsune, because I played on that song. The extra track. I always forget about that.

Greg: I was actually going to mention that. That’s actually one of my favorite Marriages’ song. It’s the first song that we recorded with Andrew in my living room as an extra bonus track for the Kitsune Japanese release. And I feel like probably a lot of people haven’t heard about that. You can almost see a bit of the evolution, and it’s a really experimental track.

Andrew: I’d like to hear that again.

I’d like to hear it too.

Greg: It’s called “Pyramids”.

Emma, I also wanted to ask you about your vocal evolution between Kitsune and Salome. ArcTanGent compared you to Sinead O’Connor in their program. I also see a lot of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries in there.

Emma: Aw, thank you.

And also a bit of Alanis Morrisette

Emma: Ew…

Taking the Alanis Morrisette back…

Emma: That’s okay. The Cranberries are a huge influence, but the main thing is that we did write songs for Salome that were more vocally focused, whereas vocals were treated more as an instrument on Kitsune. There was a lot of processing. I was using a pedal at the time that had some fourmanship and generated harmonies as well. I don’t think at first we really wanted to have a band with a singer, it was all sort of meant to be more textural. But as we progressed, we decided we wanted to shift the focus into having songs as opposed to a journey of sound.

I can see that dynamic between the two.

Emma: So the mix was different and the way the vocals were recorded was different.

So you’re probably will be prepping for the Alcest tour soon, after that what is the plan for Marriages?

Andrew: Well, we all have our respective side projects, Emma has hers and I have my own that I work on. I play guitar in.

Emma: It’s called Drab Majesty, it’s amazing.

Andrew: Greg has a daughter, and I’m sure he needs to spend time with her to make up for lost tour time.

Emma: We’ve put in a lot of work this year. We have done a lot of touring so far. I think we’re going to take a little bit of a break, unless an extraordinary touring opportunity comes up. Then I think after a few months, we’ll try to reconvene and start writing again but maybe do it in a more intensive way.

More compact and not as drawn out as last time.

Andrew: Yeah, a think tank.

Greg: There’s actually a Silicon Valley CEO who has gotten us an Incubator with the idea that we create an app for our record, and we’re going… no I’m just kidding.

As someone who works in Silicon Valley, I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen at some point… How’s the LA scene compared to San Francisco?

Andrew: I think to be honest, I think the San Francisco scene is a lot more lively and a lot more attended. Shows are much more well attended in SF. Just due to the nature of the walking culture versus LA. And LA, I think there is a different kind of attention span in LA where the direct support gets more focus than a headline.

There is so much distraction and so many things going on that people don’t want to drive late at night. There’s all these issues surrounding attendance in LA. If you do pack a show in LA, that is amazing. There’s more venues in SF, just the volume of venues and a lot of great bands. I’m born and raised in LA, but I just have some allegiance to San Francisco from when I did live there. It’s kind of a better scene right now.

Any last words?

Andrew: We would love to go to Japan, if anyone reads this. Bring us over there.

Emma: Japan would be great.

Who would you want to support you if you went? Do a flop and have Boris support you?

Emma: Oh no, I would never want them to support us, that’d be weird.

Greg: There’s no way we could hold our own after them.

Emma: I’d want to go with Helms Alee, that would be so amazing.

Greg: That would be amazing.

Based out of Los Angeles, Marriages was formed by Greg Burns and Emma Ruth Rundle, both of whom were in Red Sparowes. Later, drummer Andrew Clinco joined to finish the current lineup. Marriages blends various genres together to produce an earthy and atmospheric mix of noise and sound. They released their first full length, Salome, in early 2015. Official Site
Red Sparowes, Boris, Jesu, Junius, Helms Alee, The Cranberries, Rosetta, Kayo Dot
Top – Band photo: Greg Burns (2014)

Bottom – Emma Ruth Rundle at ArcTanGent: Nick Sayers (2015)

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